Thank you for contacting me about ‘Freedom Day’ (19th July) which is the day on which all legal requirements to social distance and wear a face covering lifted in England.
I appreciate how worried people are that the government have made mask-wearing optional. 19th July was not ‘Freedom Day’ for immunocompromised people. I understand that they remain very much at risk from the Coronavirus. As such, I believe that the government’s shift towards a system of personal responsibility against a potentially life-threatening and life-altering virus is wrong.
While case numbers are high and continuing to raise, we should continue to wear face coverings in indoor public settings to help stop the spread of the virus. This is Labour Party policy.
Many of my constituents have written to me about keeping masks mandatory on public transport. In London, we are lucky to have the leadership of Sadiq Khan, who has asked that Transport for London require passengers to wear a face covering as a condition of travel on all their services.
I recognise that this is not the case on public transport in many other areas of the country. With that being said, I understand that the Metro Mayors for Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, the West of England, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire are going to use their limited powers to require or encourage mask-wearing on their local transport networks. It is perhaps necessary to point out that all of these Mayors are from the Labour Party.
Unfortunately, it appears that the pandemic is far from over, despite the lifting of all restrictions. In my experience, people don’t particularly want to or enjoy wearing a face mask, but they recognise that doing so is a small price to pay to help keep each other safe.
I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. If you have any other matters you would like to raise with me in the future, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade